European Green Belt: From Paper to Practice
22 October 2010 | News story
The 4th European Green Belt conference took take place on the 6th October 2010 in Kuhmo, Finland, in the frame of the 20 years anniversary symposium of Finnish-Russian friendship in cross-border cooperation. One of its main conclusions is that European Green Belt initiative continues to prove its rationale and deliver across its span – it is quite vivid on the ground with numerous activities taking place or being planned. Moreover, there is a potential for the initiative to grow in the future. It is right time to launch discussion on how the Green Belt could strengthen its operations in order to embark on a new phase and expand its outreach.
Jointly organized by IUCN, Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services of Finland (NHS), the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), with the support of Finland’s Ministry of Environment, Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management, and numerous Green Belt partners, the conference reaffirmed the viability of the initiative by showcasing variety of activities taking place along the route. “The Green Belt has proven to be one of the most viable conservation initiatives in Europe. It appeals both for its conservation and local development goals. The strength of the initiative is measured by its ability to reconcile the two,” says Boris Erg, Director of IUCN Programme Office for South-Eastern Europe.
The conference gathered regional coordinators, national focal points, state representatives, experts, NGOs, businesses, as well as other partners of the Green Belt initiative. Presentations and discussions focused on various topics such as how to turn knowledge into practice, could the Green Belt be potentially branded to support a tourism offer along its route, and how research and transboundary cooperation contribute to the Programme of Work of the initiative. An important segment of the conference was dedicated to the progress achieved in the three sections of the European Green Belt since the last conference. The regional coordinators reported back on the previous years’ development in Fennoscandia and the Baltic, Central Europe, and South Eastern Europe. Among other achievements, it is worth to mention and welcome Norway who joined the initiative by signing of a trilateral MoU with Finland and Russia; large-scale conservation projects in the Baltic and Germany led by the University of Kiel and BUND, respectively; the progress made in transboundary conservation of the Drava River; and site-based projects in South-Eastern Europe at the border of Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Greece. Some viable discussions have also taken place on the opportunities for future development of the European Green Belt, especially in terms of coordination, funding and communications required to assist the initiative.
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Boris Erg, Director, IUCN Programme Office for South-Eastern Europe